Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Post-Free-Agency Power Rankings

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 at 4:00 PM

With the bulk of the NBA off-season finished and with most rosters close to what they'll be when training camps open in a few weeks, it seems like a good time to take stock of where the Grizzlies' roster stands in relation to the rest of the league.

Here's my working list of how I think the league's 30 teams stack up, with one-liner reactions for each, all subject to change as the season's tipoff approaches:


1. Miami Heat: Even more shooting to surround James and Wade.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Durant primed for first MVP.

3. Los Angeles Lakers: Health and fit are questions; league's best inside-outside pure talent isn't.

4. Boston Celtics: Improved depth should help keep Garnett and Pierce fresh for a — final? — playoff run.

5. San Antonio Spurs: They will fall off eventually. I'm done trying to predict when.

6. Los Angeles Clippers: Risk-reward bench could be a blockbuster; Griffin's knee perhaps a bigger wild card.

7. Memphis Grizzlies: If frontcourt health holds up and backcourt shooting comes around, can pass Clips and Spurs to top the West's second tier.

8. Indiana Pacers: Griz East as conference's best team without a real “star,” but I'm not sure their off-season really made them better.

9. New York Knicks: I'm not really a big Melo believer, but they should have better depth and defense than their new crosstown rivals.

10. Dallas Mavericks: If Dirk returns to vintage, they can surprise, but another first-round exit more likely.

11. New Jersey Nets: If D-Will is league's best lead guard this season — which is very possible — could lift them from lottery to homecourt in the first round.

12. Denver Nuggets: A fun regular-season team and a feisty out, but lack upside unless Javale McGee explodes.

13. Golden State Warriors: Nice offseason adds depth and shooting around a brittle Bogut/Curry core. If Bogut gets back to All-Star form, should have strong chance to get back to the playoffs.

14. Philadelphia 76ers: Still need to deal a wing for a big, still a playoff-caliber team given the East's weak middle.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Active off-season looks like a short-term wash that sidesteps long-term disaster. Well done.

16. Orlando Magic: A depressing team that's probably the most difficult to project, for obvious reasons …

17. Chicago Bulls: … unless this one is. They've survived missing Rose before, but jettisoning Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik could seriously harm team “D.”

18. Minnesota Timberwolves: A lot of addition by subtraction here. Look for a returning Andrei Kirilenko and improved Derrick Williams to make big impacts and put Wolves into the playoff hunt.

19. Utah Jazz: Skeptical about Mo Williams' return to a starting PG role. Seems like frontcourt trade is inevitable next step in ongoing rebuild.

20. Portland Trailblazers: If Damian Lillard is really as instant-impact as he looked in Vegas, they could stay in playoff race, but lack of depth and experience suggests lottery.

21. Milwaukee Bucks: Adding back defensive length (Dalembert/Henson) to complement new Jennings/Ellis backcourt makes sense, but even 8th seed would feel like a big success.

22. New Orleans Hornets: Might be the most interesting losing team in the league, featuring Vasquez-Unibrow oops on the regular.

23. Phoenix Suns: They transition from deep but mediocre team with a star to deep but mediocre team without one.

24. Washington Wizards: Invested in a playoff run that may not come, but getting John Wall back on the star track would trump all.

25. Toronto Raptors: If Kyle Lowry can get along with Dwane Casey better than he did with Hollins or McHale, and if their rookie big is rotation-ready, could be a sleeper team in the East.

26. Houston Rockets: Graded incomplete. But if they're standing pat, Jeremy Lin and Royce White intrigue.

27. Sacramento Kings: Building up their talent base but the pieces still don't fit. Have to be concerned about Thomas Robinson's summer struggles.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers: Love Kyrie Irving to pieces but have doubts about how well they're building around him.

29. Detroit Pistons: Greg Monroe becomes Kevin Love East. If you're depending on Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond for your upside, the road ahead is steep and uncertain.

30. Charlotte Bobcats: Their better is still bad. Really bad.

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